Asda launches £5 voucher and 3,000 price cuts(Image: Rui Vieira - PA Wire)

It's a busy time for price-setters at the UK's biggest supermarkets. In recent weeks, Tesco and Sainsbury's have both launched high-profile price promotions to stake their claim as the UK's cheapest supermarket.

Now Asda has taken new steps to compete, with the launch of a £5 'thank you' voucher for customers along with a 'Rollback' on prices of over 3,000 "everyday essentials".

On launching its price cuts, Asda says: "There is no price war because no other stores showed up to win." But are they right to be so bullish? We take a closer look and tell you everything you need to know.

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Asda's new promotion: the small print
The £5 'thank you' from the UK's second-biggest supermarket appears to be a direct response to Sainsbury's Brand Match guarantee, which, as we recently explained, promises to give customers the difference back in vouchers if their goods could be bought cheaper at Tesco or Asda.

Unlike the Sainsbury's offer, Asda's vouchers are a reward for spending more than £40 (although Asda does also run a similar price guarantee). Also unlike Brand Match, Asda's vouchers can be redeemed on online shopping.

All you have to do to claim the voucher is keep hold of your bill and check it online at asdapriceguarantee.co.uk. The site will then compare with prices at other supermarkets, and will give you back the difference in vouchers if your groceries aren't 10% cheaper at Asda than at more than one major competitor. By simply doing the check, you'll also be eligible for the £5 voucher (assuming you meet the terms and conditions). So far, so good.

Now for the catches. The offer is mainly intended for groceries, so purchases of prescriptions, optical goods, fuel, mobile top-ups, gift cards and kiosk purchases won't be included. And to claim your voucher, the £40 or more must include eight different grocery items, of which at least one must be 'comparable' (ie, available at other supermarkets).

It's also worth bearing in mind that vouchers claimed on shopping at Asda.com can only be used online, and likewise shoppers claiming for in-store spending can only redeem the vouchers in Asda branches.

The most baffling thing about Asda offer, though, is that it's described as a "Christmas bonus". The promotion will only be applied to shopping bought between 17 and 23 October, and you'll have to claim and spend your vouchers before 30 October. Which means it probably won't help you pay for the turkey.

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The verdict
Even with that confusing bit of marketing, Asda's new voucher scheme will be pretty welcome to hard-pressed shoppers. It will, however, only really be of value to those who do large, weekly shops, and it won't last long enough to have a really dramatic impact on our grocery bills - unless, of course, the supermarket decides to extend it.

On top of the vouchers, though, the Asda is vowing to cut prices on 3,000 products, citing reductions to "bread, butter, cereal, cupboard essentials, toilet tissue, laundry powder and fruit including the lowest priced bananas at 52p per kilo".

And as Asda also guarantees to be at least 10% cheaper than the competition, they make a pretty compelling case for being the cheapest around. However, as the Price Guarantee only applies when the supermarket is beaten by more than one other supermarket, you can't be 100% certain that you'll always be getting the cheapest price for your groceries - particularly as smaller stores such as Aldi and Lidl aren't included in the comparison.

Also, as mentioned above, Asda's scheme will only pay out if you do your homework, unlike Sainsbury's Brand Match and Tesco's Big Price Drop, where savings are effectively made instantly at the till.

As ever, then, the advice remains to keep hold of your receipts and shop around, looking at everything from online comparison sites to your local fruit and veg shop - only then can you really work out where your money will go furthest.

Related links:
Sainsbury's Brand Match: a game-changer in the supermarket price war?

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